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Mixed feelings in and around BRIGHT starring Will Smith

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Bright is a fantasy cop movie starring Will Smith and Joel Edgerton, a human cop and an orc. The movie is produced by Netflix and directed by Suicide Squad's David Ayer.

The story goes like this: human cop Daryl Ward (Smith) has the misfortune of being the partner of the nation's first orc policeman, Edgerton's Nick Jakoby. Orcs are hated by humans because, two thousand years ago, they fought on the side of the Dark Lord. Nowadays, orcs (known as "pigskins") are a permanent and violent underclass, and only the fear of bad PR keeps bigoted officials from booting Jakoby out of the L.A.P.D. Nick and Daryl are the only ones who can bring some peace to the mix.

"As genre hybrids go, you might be able to imagine films less promising than director David Ayer and screenwriter Max Landis' Bright — a Holocaust rom-com, perhaps, or a musical about zombies? In pairing the gritty, Los Angeles cop flick Ayer often makes with the fantasy world of orcs and elves, though, Bright is sufficiently weird-sounding that it all but begs viewers to come in armed with tomatoes and rotten eggs.

Alas, the finished product, though plenty embarrassing, isn't quite involving enough to merit the kind of pile-on mockery that greeted Ayer's DC Comics abomination Suicide Squad. Stars Will Smith and Joel Edgerton play it mostly straight here, doing their part to sell the dopey premise, but the screenplay offers viewers little reward for our own suspension of disbelief. Rumored to be the most expensive Netflix original film to date, the pic may well attract eyeballs on the streaming outlet. But its potential as a franchise-starter is laughably small.

Imagine an alternate version of our own reality in which humans and mythological creatures had always lived alongside each other. Presumably, that world would be rather different, in physical form and daily behavior, from the one we know. But as Landis' screenplay imagines things, this fantasy L.A. is nearly identical to ours except in two ways: Graffiti has orcs and elves in it, and downtown sports some Dubai-like architecture, thanks to the ultra-rich denizens of the "Elvin Special District," who spend their days "just runnin' the world and shopping." We occasionally see a centaur here, but if modern architecture (and plumbing) have made any accommodations for them, the movie doesn't know about it." (Hollywood Reporter)

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"On paper, maybe the Max Landis script looked like it had possibilities for a commercial project as it deals with the odd-couple pairing of a human cop and an Orc as they patrol the streets of present-day Los Angeles, a world where humans live alongside Orcs, Faeries and Elves right out of medieval times. The setup is obviously meant to parallel racial tensions, but frankly it is kind of laughable — and not in a good way. Smith plays Daryl Ward, a veteran LAPD officer nearing retirement who is paired with Orc Nick Jacoby, an unpopular partner since Orcs haven’t had many fans due to troubles dating back a couple thousand years. Ward’s corrupt supervisors put up with the idea for image sake, and the camaraderie between the two is predictably full of cutesy banter." (Deadline)

"Having established a world so rich in potential and so full of resonance, Bright backs off from exploring its finer points, or those of its characters. Edgerton gives his orc character a credible blend of timidity, dignity and inner turmoil. Smith, the ostensible star, is often given little to do beyond crack wise and shoot stuff. One of the most satisfying scenes is where the two cops simply banter in their car. Orcs have a tenuous grasp of humour and irony, but can detect “physical tells” humans don’t realise they’re making. Edgerton correctly identifies Smith’s facial expression as “human who needs a lot more conjugal love”.

I’d have been happy to ride around with these cops on a day where nothing much happened at all, or to see that centaur traffic cop putting his hooves up at home – maybe next time. And hopefully there will be a next time. For all its flaws, Bright is still a headlong leap into a bracingly different new world. Cinema could do with more of that." (The Guardian)

Check out the trailer below.

Tags:   netflix, news, fantasy, film news, Bright

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